Tag: Video Games

Darkness is on the rise in Fire Emblem Heroes

Darkness is on the rise in Fire Emblem Heroes

Never before has my disinterest in a previous summoning banner turned out to be such a prescient blessing.

Today we have been given a brand new set of focus heroes in Fire Emblem Heroes and a new chapter in Book II’s story to go along with them. However, rather than showcasing some characters from one game, we’ve gotten a very special grouping.


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That’s right, this special summoning focus is based on heroes who have dark, demented forms for one reason or another. It’s a brilliant idea for a collection to put forward… Though I do sort of wish they were saved for some kind of special holiday or event in which it would make a little more sense for them to appear.

But I can’t exactly call that a serious complaint by any means. After all I really DO love who we got here.

  • RobinFell Incarnate
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    • Just to kick things off I have a question. Why didn’t they just call this character Grima? I get that he’s supposed to be a corrupted Robin basically, but it would’ve made so much more sense to just change his nametag to ‘Grima.’ But I digress, as that petty consideration shines a light nowhere near as intense as the character himself. He has interesting skills and is our first armored dragon unit — with a broken ass weapon at that. Seriously it’s mad powerful and looks insane too. On top of being a good looking unit that’ll fit on my dragon team, I just generally love the twist in Awakening. Robin here will be my main hunt as a result!
  • CelicaImprisoned Soul
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    • Despite a few logical flaws, Celica is a great character in Fire Emblem Echoes. She’s so great in fact that the community voted for her in its second ‘Choose Your Legends’ event. That means a third Celica will be coming in the near future, which in hind sight is not a great thing. After all, Beloved Zofia went to this version, so what is the new Celica going to use? Seraphim magic perhaps? Not completely sure. Though what I am completely sure about is that I will be going after Celica too. Not only is she great-looking skill wise, but she’s just an overall amazing character like I said. Who wouldn’t love her, even with her soul stolen so she becomes a witch?
  • HardinDark Emperor
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    • I’ll be honest, I have the least amount of connections to Hardin given that I didn’t even know who he was before this, so if there’s anyone on this list I’m not going to try summoning… It’s him. Robin and Celica are way more important, plus I already have a powerful Effie as my blue lance armored unit. Though I will say, I like how he fits into this theme as an ally of Marth who lets absolute power corrupt absolutely once he becomes Emperor of Archanea. That’s the kind of example of character information I’m glad I learned more about so I can feel better when I do encounter the guy.

I just… I’m not sure what else I have to say on this matter.

Seriously, I love these heroes. Besides perhaps Hardin’s picks, I have a strong desire to summon all of them.

Plus, Intelligent Systems surprised me by actually reading my mind. When I first saw the trailer show up for this banner online, I was very concerned seeing that Takumi corrupted at the end of Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest version did not show up. He’s basically a meme in his own right, and I figured it was a missed opportunity.

Then I found out Takumi corrupted is specifically going to show up later in a Grand Hero Battle. Like… That’s amazing! I suppose it was just an obvious choice, but knowing my thought process was validated is an incredibly satisfying feeling.

He’s not going to show up until later though. So for now, let’s look back at the heroes we have.

I’ll level with you, audience — when I started on this banner tonight, I had a mountain of orbs. 200.

Yeah, 200. You read that right.

That’s the blessing of my general disinterest in the Valentine’s Day banner that I mentioned before. Between all of the special anniversary events and the current Tempest Trial run I’ve been able to really bolster my reserves for an event just like this where I really, REALLY want the heroes.

Luckily I didn’t have to make too huge of a dent to get there:

It’s my boi Grima, yo! So excited to see him!

He’s going to make an amazing addition to the manakete team I’ve been building up since summoning Myrhh in the latest Sacred Stones banner.

It helps that he has a deep, kinda sexy voice too. You go evil Robin.

I spent about 35 orbs to get to him, and even though I’m showing some restraint for now I’ll definitely still go after Celica soon enough.

Also, it’s worth noting that somehow I got another five-star on the way to Grima:

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Yeah… Not totally sure where Lucina came from, but I suppose I can’t complain. I’ve never gotten her before, so I finally have a new cinematic summoning animation to enjoy.

Even if Masked Lucina is still the better bae. Just saying.


Now earlier I mentioned that I wished these heroes got a bit more of a situational treatment elevating them specifically. That was referring primarily to the new story missions we got alongside our three new evil children.

See, as much as I appreciate the fact that we’re moving the game’s main plot along, the fact that we’re doing so leaves the new heroes as more of a footnote.

It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, honestly.

But… I do really like the development in this chapter, so I’ll let it slide. For now.

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The new chapter picks up where the last one left off (obviously enough). The Order of Heroes have moved into Fjorm’s home nation having protected the village just outside the boundary, and now have to make their way to Gunnthrá who is hiding away.

However, their progress is quickly impeded by the arrival of Surtr’s army.

After defeating Laevatein, she retreats and the Order starts to make their way through the snow once more.

However, they’re troubled by the thought that thick tracks left in the heavy snow is going to lead the fiery army toward them wherever they go.

So Anna comes up with the brilliant idea of leaving one pathway in the snow as a diversion while masking their actual direction.

It seems to be working well enough with Laevatein… But not for our newly introduced villain: Her older sister.

I suppose this is as good a place as any to address my thoughts on Laegjarn…

I love her.

Seriously, she very quickly jumped up to being my favorite member of the opposing army. Not only is she intelligent, she’s cool and collected in a way that makes her seem like a methodical and more dastardly villain with undertones. Plus she totally sits around and gets out of jams with her little sister and it’s dope!

At one point, Fjorm even says she’s an amicable woman that’s willing to use diplomacy and build happiness among the oppressed.

My only real point of contention with her right now, as I think about it in my witching hour daze, is her overall relationship with her younger sister.

That relationship has me awfully conflicted. On the one hand, it’s freaking adorable. Laevatein clearly loves and adores her older sister, wanting to be just like her. Laegjarn appreciates the love and wants her younger sister to be happy.

It’s great because it reminds me of my relationship with my own younger sister in a way! That makes them awfully endearing characters to think that they care for each other in place of their awful father.

However… Even if I love the relationship, something about the way Laevatein has been portrayed now that her sister is around bugs me.

On the one hand it’s sweet seeing her have an endearing bond with her older sister. But on the other hand, as soon as the sister showed up Laevatein’s dialogue suddenly began to sound… Infantilized.

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I get wanting to be respectful of your older sibling, but it seems like the girl has been neutered or something, and that seems like a shame considering she was previously my favorite.

Though maybe I’m over thinking it. If anything that same concern might just be a sign of her complex double facing nature. Who knows, only time will tell.

Anyway though I got WAY off track. But to be fair, once you beat the first mission not a lot happens until you arrive at the last mission when you’re backed into a wall.

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After your group beats them, Laegjarn realizes they might be outclassed in terms of skill and orders a retreat.

While the Order goes off and does… Whatever they do… The focus stays on our fiery sisters.

As Laegjarn reflects on the fact that they’ll need new strategies if they want to win, Laevatein suggests a plan that receives quite a bit of flak.

I don’t know what this special skill is, but it sounds dope and I want to see it.

Unless it kills her. In which case, don’t put it in the game Intelligent Systems. I’d rather not have to deal with any painful self-sacrifices.

Luckily, in place of the hellfire skill a different idea is suggested:

Then things cut off. That’s all you get. Thanks for the money folks, come back another day.

A bit of an abrupt stop this time around, but I suppose I can’t complain. You’ve now seen how much of an emotional journey I felt watching these new characters interact, after all.

Though once again I really would have liked to see what a story focused around Grima and zombie Celica would look like. Talk about a missed opportunity.


That’s about that for my Fire Emblem Heroes blog post for the day. Obviously, I liked these new updates to the roster!

The new heroes are cool, the new villain is cool… I just really appreciate everything this time around. Plus I’ve been able to keep a lot of my orbs in storage, so I feel great about that going forward.

I could end this by asking about everything I talked about, but let’s keep things more simple this time around.

How do you feel about the relationship between Laevatein and Laegjarn? Am I overreacting to Laevatein’s silent obedience around her sister?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Falling in love with the Fire Emblem Heroes 2.2.0 Update

Falling in love with the Fire Emblem Heroes 2.2.0 Update

Good god there’s a lot to cover here today. Guess that’s what happens when I’m so busy that I don’t have the time to address these updates as they come out.

Though… I suppose it is nice to be able to get it all out of the way at once rather than having three separate, incomplete posts.

Probably the only problem is the fact that this post is going to be a billion words long if I get to rambling on too much. Since I’m already basically doing that, I’ll zip it and jump into all the Fire Emblem goodness.

I’ll try to keep it brief. Promise.

It’s not going to be brief, is it?



The Version 2.2.0 Update

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Starting off our little marathon of coverage is this big puppy: one new Fire Emblem Heroes update fresh off the presses.

Battle Screen Layout

Probably the most obvious change right off the bat is a brand new battle mode select screen:

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Okay well it isn’t COMPLETELY new or anything. But it’s new enough.

Instead of there being two separate icons for the Tempest Trials and Voting Gauntlets, the two categories have been combined and now appear together in an “events” vortex. This change has cleared room for… Something.

I honestly have no idea what the new upper-left icon is. It looks like the Garden of Eden, or some kind of fountain of power. The name is obscured and we can’t select it yet, but supposedly it’s going to be maps specifically used for Legendary Heroes and their blessed allies.

Which will finally give me a reason to use my blessings.

Also included in the new events vortex is a brand new game mode, which is arguably the most significant addition to this update.

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Tap Battle Game Mode

 

Tap Battling is… Interesting.

Interesting is about the only really good thing I can think to say about them upon first impressions, however.

Let’s break things down.

Opening up the Tap Battle menu, as you can see above, makes everything seem very similar to a Tempest Trial, with the two-week timer ticking down.

However, the similarities stop there. An early noticeable aspect of the game mode is that it fills the same niche as Arena Assault by requiring no stamina, dueling swords or anything to play. You can literally tackle the labyrinth endlessly if you want.

If you do decide to tackle it, there are two game modes to work with:

 

 

As you can see, Casual mode has you tapping the Summoner at the bottom of your phone screen to defeat an enemy when they reach the red square in front of your units, whereas Expert mode requires you to tap the row of the unit that’s under attack.

I enjoy the aesthetic presentation of this mode, if nothing else. Being able to select whatever units you want to bring is an interesting idea as far as letting you choose a team you want to tap with, and it’s cool to see their sprites so close up against a wide-open background for once.

On top of that, even if the enemy placement is rather spaced out and boring on easy difficulty, there is also a hard difficulty that makes tapping along to the rhythm of the song a little more exciting:

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Multiple kinds of units appear in hard difficulty too, as opposed to just sword-wielders on easy.

There are also special boss stages every 20 floors, where you encounter a notable character that attacks each of your unit’s lanes in a set order until you can wipe out their health bar.

 

Each time you beat a level, you’re scored based on how much of a combo streak you keep throughout.

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The Summoner be looking cute in this graphic here. Just sayin.

However, as cute as the Summoner is, he can’t stop the ever creeping mediocrity of the event as a whole. While it all sounds interesting in concept… It frankly becomes dreadfully dull and underutilized in execution.

For one, as you might have noticed before, I said hard mode makes it more enticing to tap along to the song. THE song.

There’s only one song.

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Granted, we only have 40 floors currently, and there are 100 floors all together promised…

But seriously Intelligent Systems? ONE song? In a music-based rhythm game?

I’ll give them props for making each stage have a unique pattern despite going against the same base song… But it’s so painfully boring to just hear the same song over and over again.

Plus, each stage goes through five floors at a time in this game’s logic. With only 40 floors available so far, that means there are eight stages (with more being promised to appear every day). These stages are quick to run through on easier difficulties and feel less like accomplishments than they would have if each stage was a distinct floor to work through by itself.

With that said, I only mentioned them being quick on easier difficulties, right? Hard mode is definitely the way to go then, isn’t it?

Well, hold your hypothetical horses my dear reader.

Hard mode is more engaging, yes. In fact, I quite like the idea of there being options to change game style and difficulty to create a more customizable experience for players… But the game is set up in a way that makes it a superfluous addition.

Clearing each series of floors earns you a reward. However, each stage literally only has one reward.

If you beat a stage on easy, you can’t get a reward for hard. If you beat it in casual mode, you can’t get a reward for expert mode.

Despite this, the four permutations of play style are all given desperate rankings. So for example, if you get an S-rank on Easy/Casual, you don’t get the S-ranking on Hard/Casual. But you get no extra reward for taking the same stages on again other than bragging rights.

Seriously, as far as the informational post put out by Intelligent Systems says, there isn’t any sort of extra reward planned for getting full S-rankings on each permutation. The game simply claims it’s an “easy-to-play battle mode.”

Honestly if I wasn’t such a completionist with my games, I probably wouldn’t bother playing this mode after the first run of it. But I am, so I’m going to hate myself and continue playing it just in case something happens later.

Something just really bugs me about Tap Battles. I feel like there’s an interesting concept under the surface of a boring, empty-feeling game mode.

For example, I like the idea of bringing the units you want, but the choices you make have no impact on your time in-game. I understand why considering each map is specifically timed to go with the song, but there was so much more that could have been done.

Why not make it so a sword unit you bring is super effective against an axe-wielding boss? Have their attacks take away more of the bosses health bar, or something along those lines.

I don’t know… Maybe this will grow on me, but for right now I’d honestly say it’s bland and forgettable. Luckily it will keep updating and provide more rewards to retain interest, but what a missed opportunity.

Speaking of forgotten, however…

Weapon Refinery Update

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A slightly more anticipated part of this update, for me at least, was the addition of new weapons to refine.

Basically, every unit who uses Falchion can now upgrade the legendary sword with various effects. Lucina’s upgraded Falchion grants her buffs to all of her stats when she’s standing next to allies while Marth’s upgraded Falchion buffs his allies when he’s next to them, for example.

The other five units shown in the image above can also now upgrade their basic weapons into character-specific legendary weapons. For units like Raven, Felicia and Caeda, these buffs were hugely needed and welcomed.

Hell, I’ve had a Raven since probably my fifth 5 star summon, and only now am I considering using him.

I’m just hoping Eirika gets an upgrade to her sword soon so I can keep my child growing.

New Special Battle Map Rotations

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This is probably the most interesting update in the bunch, if you ask me.

Two different daily rotations have been added into the Special Maps menu.

The first offers players the chance to fight Grand Hero Battles of the past. Seven of the heroes have apparently been retired to this fate, which will give us the opportunity to take them on whenever we want – if it’s the right date.

I love that idea, since it shows they’re planning on making room for new Grand Hero Battles to be implemented in the near future without having to worry about bringing these back in rarified time slots.

Plus, there are quests available for a full year to get extra things like orbs.

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Who can complain with that?

The second rotation comes in the form of Special Training Maps.

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There are five of these maps with five difficulty settings each that give you rewards when you beat them the first time.

Of course, that means that there will be no rewards remaining after the first week, but they’re apparently built to help train the units that are described in the title. It’s a nice idea, though slightly less so than the Grand Hero Battle rotation if you ask me.

Extra Patch Notes

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The last part of the 2.2.0 update is outlined in full right here. For the most part I don’t have anything to add.

Except… Thank god manaketes don’t have to transform each and every time a fight starts.

I really appreciate that kind of quality of life change.



Love Abounds Summoning Focus

That’s leg one of this marathon done. You all still with me?

Good.

Well then, let’s talk about Valentine’s Day.

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While I’ve been waiting for this holiday-centric summoning banner to arrive for some time now, I’m admittedly not super excited seeing that it centers around the Binding and Blazing Blade heroes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s not Fates- or Awakening-centric again, but these games have easily the third most granted alternate skins.

Maybe if I get the chance to play these original games at some point in the near future, I’ll be a little more caring for the heroes. But until then, let’s see what these new holiday heroes are packing, shall we?

  • LynWind’s Embrace
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    • The interesting thing about this Lyn is the fact that with her addition you can now have a team full of four different Lyns to take down your foes. Okay… Well that’s not the only interesting thing I suppose. I do actually like Lyn’s build. She’s a blue armored mage who can buff the movement of her fellow armored units, gains stats when she’s next to them and make the opponent use their special attacks less. Sounds pretty sweet, especially considering I don’t have any non-footsoldier magic units. Plus, I’ll have two of the game’s four Lyndis clones if I get her.
  • HectorJust Here to Fight
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    • Alright, Hector is… I guess the opposite of interesting, in a sense. His skills are essentially the same as his regular counterpart, just with a buffed up weapon, a new special attack and different armor-benefitting skill. While it isn’t exciting, his original form is still known for being a beast, so I’m pretty interested in going after him as well. Especially since he looks pretty legit in that black outfit of his.
  • LilinaBlush of Youth
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    • Lilina is arguably the unit I would want least on this banner… Even if I just cursed myself into getting her instead of Hector, since they’re the same color. She’s a green mage cavalier, which I already have in my own amazing form. Her skills are sub-par in my opinion despite making her a team leader, so I’m not going to lose any sleep over her. Sorry Lilina.
  • RoyYouthful Gifts
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    • Roy is our second bow knight, behind Lyn funnily enough (it’s a position which I still think should have gone to Neimi, Intelligent Systems. One day soon, I swear). However, he seems to pale in comparison to his friend, with just Death Blow going for him honestly. At least, in my opinion that is all he has going for him. He shares the same weapon skill with Valentine’s Day Lyn and Lilina, but I’m just not super impressed by them I guess.

Eliwood is also here as a special hero, but he’s going to show up in a Tempest Trial later this month.

While I’m not necessarily in love with these heroes as a group, I do actually quite like their overall Shakespearean theme. It’s a neat aesthetic to take on for a Romeo and Juliet callback of sorts.

If I had to pick, I’d say I’m looking out for either Hector or Lyn. Green and Blue orbs abound.

However, because I’m unfortunately not super in love with these lovey dovey heroes, I’m not going to spend a ton of orbs this time around. I had about 100 at the time the banner dropped, so I’m going to be disciplined and only use orbs when I get back up to 100.

If I don’t get anything, I’ll just spend some time building up again using the many, many events all happening at once. That way I’ll also have a ton of orbs around just in case I like whatever is coming in the future.

Now that I’ve discussed my thoughts on the heroes, you know what’s up next.

Story time, lovelies.

Luckily, this time we only have a Paralogue to sort through, not a full chapter. That makes things much easier on my for now.

Plus it opens up the opportunity for more creative level design, in this case fitting in with that Romeo and Juliet style I mentioned before.

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See what I mean? It’s a very medieval-styled festival in my opinion. War of the Roses era stuff.

But how does that cute aesthetic tie a story together?

Well it starts with the Order of Heroes preparing to head out to a festival for Devotion Day. Because the holidays in Fire Emblem can never just be in their natural forms.

Sharena has a very romanticized view of the holiday:

However, her allies have a… Much less romantic view of things.

Classic Anna.

When you arrive in the world, you start to come across the done up heroes, starting with Roy and Lilina.

They’re pretty much just being cute and flirting with each other.

Even if I haven’t played the games they’re in, I can appreciate a cute ship when I see it.

Once you defeat them you come across their parents preparing to take part in the festival.

Frankly, the exchange between them all is hilarious. I really enjoyed this part, so I’ll lay it out in pictures.

I just really like the idea of Hector going up against these people having fun by slaying them with his legendary axe. It’s super great.

Beat the three of them and you arrive next on a battlefield with everyone… Except Roy for some reason. Guess he just gets the shaft here.

Or technically, I suppose it makes sense due to the exchange between Hector and Eliwood.

See, Hector sees his daughter Lilina going around with a gift while spending time with Roy and believes the two are off to get hitched.

He’s not so happy about that…

But Lyn quickly derails the argument.

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And fight you do.

When you defeat all of the holiday heroes, they lament their loss as usual. However, things take a different route when Lilina comes out and gives the gift she’s been carrying around to her father.

Obviously he feels bad knowing that the symbol of what he thought was his daughter growing up and moving away from him was actually her way of getting closer with him.

He also mentions the wonky continuity of Fire Emblem Heroes by talking about how he’s dead in her canon universe and they shouldn’t be together…

But hey.

Video game logic.

Once the heroes move on, Sharena decides to hand out presents to everyone, with her speech to the Summoner calling back to her idea of wanting to reveal her true feelings by suggesting once more that she had a romantic interest in him.

It’s a sweet ending to a sweet diversion in what has become a rather dark story progression.

Even if I don’t have a huge attraction to the holiday heroes, at least I feel nice having gone through the story these developers plotted out.

Now if only I could summon one of these fools so I would feel better about them.


Upcoming Events

You’ve all made it quite far into my little gauntlet of over-embellished written nightmares here, so for this portion I’m going to take it easy on you.

Because I appreciate and love you.img_7248

So many events, so little time.

Most notably, we’ve got another Tempest Trial on the way (with Valentine’s Day Eliwood as the reward, like I said before) and six summoning banners coming out in the next month.

It’ll be a grind to keep up with it all, but I’m as ready for the challenge as ever.


Golly gosh am I tired after all this writing. Wasn’t expecting to stay up so late to do it, but I guess the writing bug really hit me tonight.

I know I basically just said it in the short section above, but I wanted to thank anyone who came this far again for being so willing to put up with my late night rambling text bullshit.

Seriously, this was a massive undertaking that probably had no right to be such a massive undertaking. Could’ve just split it into multiple posts. If I was smart, I probably would have.

But that said, there’s a ton of things to reflect on that I talked about leading up to this. So let me know, what do you think of the 2.2.0 update? Or the new Valentine’s Day summoning focus? Or all the upcoming events?

Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

But even if not, I hope you all enjoy your weekends. I’ve got a bunch of work to do throughout, but it’s going to be great to rest a little too after this long, arduous week.

Entertainment Reporting Beat Overview

Our first assignment for Comm 436 had my class sent out into the wild, wild west of the internet to compile a list of basic details and possible future stories that we can examine throughout the semester.

The professor recommended we utilize our research as the first piece of our compendium of paying attention to the entertainment world, so I figured I would do just that.

This little explanatory introduction is pretty much just here to frame things. I won’t waste too much more time with it, so that said: Enjoy the minor fruits of my labor.


The California Video Game Industry

Local, Major Players:

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Informational Websites:

Possible Story Ideas:

Happy birthday, Fire Emblem Heroes

Happy birthday, Fire Emblem Heroes

I’m admittedly a day late and a dollar short with this one, considering Heroes came out on February 2, 2017… But I wanted to put out my Comm 436 post first before the week was out, so I figured this would still be relevant as long as the anniversary celebration is still ongoing.

That being said, Fire Emblem Heroes is a year old this weekend! I still distinctly remember the day I started playing, going through the tutorial as I rode down an elevator in College Park while thinking over what I would say for a review. I also remember sitting out in front of the room where my honors history class was held in the basement of the education building, waiting for class to start as I actually wrote the thing.

Though there are a number of things I might not still mesh with from my original examination of the game, I still think it’s worth a read as a in-depth look at the basics for beginners.

It’s a little hard to believe we’re now a full rotation around the sun since then, and frankly I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised that I’m still as hooked on the mobile title that sparked my interest in mobile titles as I was that first day.

Hell, just last night I finally got my very first completely merged unit.

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Good old Cecilia. She and Reinhardt still make a wonderful team.

I don’t plan to go too in-depth with this, it’s mostly just a small congratulations to the game for making it where it is today while still going strong.

Though while I’m here, I also figured I would go over the stuff Intelligent Systems are doing for the anniversary, since there’s a nice amount going on.

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Okay, so I’m probably not going to show off what’s happening so much as I’m just going to show off what they said, given that I probably couldn’t sum it up any better than this.

The great thing about this little anniversary celebration is how the developers know to give us exactly what we want: Orbs.

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50 free orbs right off the bat.

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Daily missions that are going to keep us coming back for a while and give us an extra 50 orbs in the long run.

Add to that a daily log-in bonus and some more Tempest Trial grinding and hoo boy is there a lot to be excited about. Orbs go away in this game pretty fast, after all.

Especially when there are multiple big, special summoning events happening at once.

Yeah… That’s a hell of a cash grab if I’ve ever seen one. Especially considering there seems to be another special banner coming around for Valentine’s Day.

Luckily, I already have all the heroes from the Hero Fest this time around and I got a special unit from the Legendary Banner.

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She’s no Ike, but she is a nice addition to my horde.

I’m not planning on spending any more orbs on these, so hopefully whatever comes down the pipeline is worth the wait.

Speaking of down the pipeline, it’s also probably worth mentioning the big future special hero events that have been happening.

For instance, the second Choose Your Legends event ended recently, and we got a… Well… Expected top choices list.

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Come on guys, I like these characters and all, but I was really banking on you all helping me get Neimi up on the list.

Feh…

Anyway, while I suppose I am looking forward to seeing a Brave Ephraim coming one day, there’s also a more novel event happening as we speak (if you read this the day it comes out, of course).

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Yeah, basically everyone gets a few votes on every hero that has been in the game thus far, and whichever unit wins will be given out for free.

That includes the special holiday heroes, legendary heroes and all the rest.

It’s a cool idea, and I’m pretty interested to see who comes out on top.

If you want to vote for your favorite, the site is here. May the best hero win.

That’s all I have to say for now, however, since I’ve got to go to bed in a hurry. Tomorrow morning (this morning when this is posted because time shenanigans) I’m going to be out in Fullerton helping to cover the homeless situation along the Santa Ana river. Ironically enough a topic I was also enmeshed in about a year ago for Bonnie’s Investigative Reporting class.

Anyway, that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, let me know: What are some of your favorite memories with Fire Emblem Heroes one year in?

Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever forget how this game had become a cementing point that keeps a lot of my high school friend group talking and playing together consistently.

Tell me about some of your favorite things in the comments below! Here’s looking forward to more and more content down the line.

A Legendary Banner for a miniature Tempest Trial

A Legendary Banner for a miniature Tempest Trial

This likely won’t be a substantial post (he says hopefully before getting into the actual writing portion of things), but I felt enough happened in Fire Emblem Heroes today to warrant something before the inevitable one year anniversary celebration.

Coming soon.

First and foremost, there was a new Feh Channel released yesterday that updated everyone on new things coming around the bend.

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I unfortunately have not had the time to watch it. That’s a majority of reason why I’m expecting this to be short.

Basically, I didn’t have time because all of yesterday evening was spent helping to cover President Trump’s State of the Union address.

I was at the College Republicans club watch party, took my own photos, did a wee bit of live tweeting, got a bunch of interviews… It was a pretty nice experience overall.

Then there was some weird stuff going on that led to us not having an article on it quite yet for some reason? But uhh… That’s a story for another time. Namely a time when that article actually gets written and published. Which will hopefully be soon.

That said, if you’re interested in watching the Feh Channel check it out here. I’ll probably get more caught up on the subject matter later.

In the meantime, some of the updates elaborated on in the informational video have already begun to roll out.

My picture just above kind of spoils things, but not as obviously as the featured image for this post… So I’ll quit burying the lede.


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Ike has returned in a third form, this time as a Legendary Hero.

Seriously, anyone else remember when we were all wondering why Ike hadn’t shown up in game when he was clearly a title character all over the branding?

Good times.

Now a days there are three different versions of Ike: His normal appearance, a Brave variant and now a Legendary variant (which is incredibly reminiscent of his Smash Brothers counterpart, I might add).

He’s a pretty strong looking character too.

  • IkeVanguard Legend
    • Legendary Hero Ike comes equipped with some familiar skills and some not-so-familiar skills. His weapon, Ragnell, is the same as his normal variant and gives him distant attack counters. He also comes with a more advanced version of his regular special attack called Radiant Aether which allows him to slash an opponent’s defensive stats and regain 50 percent of the damage he deals as his own health. By itself that’s a pretty wild combination of things. Yet, he also comes with three more skills in the form of Warding Breath (granting him +4 resistance if attacked and increasing Special cooldown charge), Seal Attack and Defense (causing a -5 debuff to both those stats after combat with a unit) and Defense Tactic (granting all infantry and armored units in his 2 square vicinity +6 defense each turn). I have a Brave Ike in my collection but not a regular Ike, so I would definitely be happy to pull this guy.

One of these days I’m really going to have to play the Radiant titles so I understand why Ike was so popular better.

But until I do, I can live out the hype with this beefy looking unit right here.

Assuming I can summon him.

Which, spoiler alert, has not been going super well for me so far. But because there are also some other subsidiary units on his Legendary Banner that I would want (namely Summer Xander, Gunnthrá and Siegbert), I’m going to keep going at it.

In controlled bursts. Not looking to go too crazy when there’s presumably Valentine’s Day units coming up soon. Even if there are only four days on this banner.

Though with the exceptional grace of a beautiful transition, there is an extra source of orbs in our midst as well.


Another miniature Tempest Trials has arrived, not too long after our last New Years-themed event. A long time ago I complained about burnout associated with these suckers, but since I’ve discovered a grinding method that works for me I’m far more welcoming of it.

Even if that trial I complained about was themed after Ike’s games, ironically enough.

Maybe this is what it means to have a full developmental arc?

Who knows. After all, all of that is beside the point because really who can complain about extra orbs, medals and a new character? Especially when that new character is Marisa:

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You’re no Neimi, but you’ll do. Welcome to the team.

Part of my burnout treatment has been not talking about these Tempest Trial runs like I used to, but this one is special enough that I felt it would be worth delving into the plot a little bit further.

As always, it begins with Lucina (or Marth still, despite the fact that it seems like everyone knows something is fishy behind her mask) arriving at a new place to take on yet another outcropping of the threatening Tempest. This time with Heroes-specific units to greet her:

Fjorm seems interested in helping out, but as I mentioned is suspicious of the mask. It makes Lucina untrustworthy apparently.

I do understand that to an extent… But let’s be real, the mask is super sweet and I would trust anyone wearing it.



Editor’s Note: Don’t try to coerce me into things wearing Lucina’s butterfly mask.

Just figured I’d put that out there.



Fjorm has just one idea to prove that Lucina is a trustworthy compatriot:

But then, just as Fjorm is about to take the legendary Falchion…

WHOA!

Plot twist.

Fjorm wasn’t Fjorm all along! She was Loki in disguise once again.

From there she just says she’ll wait for you to arrive at the deepest part of the Tempest to fight her, but there was honestly just something about this plot twist I really enjoyed.

I don’t know, I guess it just worked well in reference to character traits Intelligent Systems has established thus far. You know me, I’m a fan of strong characterization.

It continues on too, considering Loki is actually Fjorm in the final battle of the Tempest Trial run.

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That about covers everything I have to say regarding this Fire Emblem Heroes update.

Like I said earlier, there should be more to come in the near future when we get to the anniversary of the game’s release. That’ll be dope for anyone who pines during the downtime without Fire Emblem posts.

For anyone who doesn’t pine for Fire Emblem posts… Well… Like I said, something about the State of the Union should be coming soon. I also have a few other plans in the next couple days I’m planning on writing about, so overall there should just be some nice activity going on around here.

So, until next time, what do you think about Legendary Ike? Besides him, who else would you want to get out of the new summoning banner?

Let me know in the comments down below!

Sacred Stones in Fire Emblem Heroes return, with Great Flames ready to burn

Sacred Stones in Fire Emblem Heroes return, with Great Flames ready to burn

About a week ago, we got a new calendar showcasing the many events that were coming down the pipeline in Fire Emblem Heroes for the first few months of the year.

By many events, I do mean many events.

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Wow. Talk about a busy lineup, right?

Through the sizable web of things happening I, alongside many other fans of the Fire Emblem series, noticed something interesting. The chief antagonist of my favorite Fire Emblem game, the Sacred Stones, was coming up as a Grand Hero Battle. Then, when he cleared off, Valder would be returning.

Two Sacred Stones units in a row? Well that’s odd. Could it possibly be a coincidence given that a new summoning focus was set to begin just before they arrived?

As it turns out, it was not a coincidence. This new banner is indeed Sacred Stones-themed like everyone was hoping.

Let me tell you, I was excited about the sheer possibility of a banner from this game as soon as the calendar was hot on the presses. Every time something with Sacred Stones comes up, my heart starts firing at all cylinders.

Was my excitement met with an ample return from Intelligent Systems?

Am I ready as ever to immerse myself in the world of the Sacred Stones?

Would I be asking this many rhetorical questions if I didn’t have a subverting comment waiting in the wings?

Read on to find out.


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To make a long cliffhanger short, I am indeed pretty excited about these units! Like I said already, it’s hard for me not to be excited when this game comes out of the woodwork.

However, there is one blemish on this otherwise beautiful sight that leaves me somewhat embittered about the whole thing.

But I’ll get to that. For now, let’s start examining what our new summon-able friends bring to the table.

  • MyrrhGreat Dragon
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    • Peaking a little early here, Intelligent Systems? On top of being an obvious fan favorite character, Myrrh also has arguably the most interesting and powerful build in this new bunch. She’s a rarity, being not only our second green dragon unit in the game, but also a green dragon unit with a flying movement-type distinction. You can probably build some crazy interesting half-dragon/half-flying team combinations with her on your side. It helps that she looks as powerful as she does unique, boasting a skill to Hone other manakete units, the attack-heavy Fury and Bonfire special attack and a special breath weapon that makes her hit a weaker defensive stat against ranged units. A pretty sweet spread all-and-all.
  • L’ArachelPrincess of Light
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    • Yet another fan favorite character who seems to be bringing her wonderful holier-than-thou divine justice, but a strange name pronunciation. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever thought to say “Lara shell,” but to be fair the game developers also had a different pronunciation for Innes so I guess that trait runs strong in Sacred Stones. L’Arachel also has a bit of a strange skill spread compared to the undoubtedly powerful Myrrh. Rather than being a staff-wielding troubadour, as most likely remember her, she’s much more akin to her valkyrie advancement in that she uses the sacred light weapon Ivaldi (now a blue tome). Though it doesn’t have great base power, she gains bonuses in attack and speed when fighting a full health unit. An interesting add-on admittedly. However, from there she carries the sub-par special attack Glowing Light and bulk-centric Renewal (which may or may not be important depending on her stat spread), as well as the brand new Resistance Tactic that grants a big boost to infantry and armored units. There’s possibly some synergy here, we’ll have to see.
  • EirikaAnamnesis Lady
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    • Anamnesis: Noun. The recollection or remembrance of the past. I’ll admit, this is a very clever title for Eirika given her overwhelming insistence on remembering all the good times between her, Ephraim and Lyon. If I had to guess before jumping into the story missions, this theme will play into them appearing together and I appreciate that. Unfortunately, it also brings me to remember the fact that we already got Eirika as a unit. A long, long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool when we get new versions of old units through Brave Heroes and holiday-themed events, and I’ve been an advocate for Eirika on horseback like her final form in the original game for some time… But when a second version of a unit shows up like this in a main summoning focus, it just feels like a slot was taken that could have been filled by another. Especially since her skill spread seems like the most underwhelming of the three heroes here despite her boasting five skills. Plus, what’s with her having the dark tome Gleipnir? She can never learn how to use magic in the Sacred Stones, it just seems… Nonsensical. Unless there’s a story reason that I haven’t gotten to yet, but I guess we’ll see.

I don’t really know what it is about Eirika that bugs me so much. Her appearance here is what makes me feel rather bitter about this whole banner despite the fact that it’s based on my favorite game in the series and has two wonderful units in it. Seriously, Myrrh and L’Arachel are great and I’m going to be trying to get both, but why did we get a weird reprint of Eirika now?

It really feels like it would have made more sense to release a horseback Eirika as a Brave hero down the line, for me at least.

Plus that would have saved room for someone like Neimi.

I mean seriously Intelligent Systems, how much more do I have to beg? I appreciate Myrrh and L’Arachel, and I know both Lyon and Marisa are coming soon too from other events… But I just want my favorite character in the game already.

I’ll keep voting in the new Choose Your Legends event until I get her.

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If nothing else, I suppose it’s a positive that she’s not in the game because I don’t feel as bad voting for her? But not really, because I would have voted for her anyway.

I will seriously throw my Brave Lyn away in a heartbeat if we got a horseback archer Neimi at some point.

That’s about enough empty, ridiculous bitching about a gotcha game for one day, though. Thanks to the Radiant Dawn banner screwing me over and scaring me away at the same time as a Tempest Trial, I’m starting off this Sacred Stones banner with 94 orbs, so I’m feeling lucky about nabbing that Myrrh.

Wait, what was that? I wrote this whole section before the update even happened you say?

Well… You’re not wrong.

Luckily, now present day Jason can report some good news on the tail end of this somewhat negative build-up:

I GOT DAT MYRRH BABY, YEAH!!! WOO!!

Also she’s apparently sassy as FUCK here. It’s absolutely incredible, and I’m very happy and lucky considering this happened so easily.

It only took 30 orbs to nab her too! So I still have about 60 orbs – without having done all of the new missions and all – to spend either on future special banners or to come back and try my hands at L’Arachel.

It’s a bit of a tough choice since I love Sacred Stones, but also I love having special holiday variant heroes.

Just don’t read too much into that in comparison to my vague disdain toward a new version of Eirika appearing.

On that note, the question remains regarding whether or not my predictions about a reminiscent Eirika/Lyon interactions were valid, which strikes me as a perfect segue into story.


While I am a bit surprised to see two main story chapters show up in such a short period of time, I can’t say I’m opposed to it. Especially considering this chapter goes into a really deep amount of interesting character development.

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The story picks up a little while after the last series of missions ends off, with our heroes having just finished fixing up the town ravaged by Surtr’s army.

Before they head off, however, we get to see a much deeper look into Alfonse’s daddy issues.

It actually gets a bit heavy, even if things aren’t very thoroughly explained in my opinion.

Alfonse talks about how his father is leading an army to protect the land of Askr, yet he doesn’t agree with Alfonse being a part of the Order of Heroes… Which for all intents and purposes is essentially an army protecting the land of Askr.

Sure, the Order led by a greedy general, and I guess they’re fairly ‘hands on’ as he says, but otherwise I don’t necessarily see the distinction off-hand.

Plus, the game leaves off other potentially relevant details, like why Alfonse seems to be ostracized but Sharena, his sister, isn’t. Maybe that’s just her hiding it away because she’s got a happy-go-lucky kind of defense mechanism, but if that’s true we don’t get too much of an indication to that effect either.

Am I thinking too much into this? Maybe. But I’ve got no qualms talking about my love of the lore in this game. Seeing character development is always great, and Alfonse gets some powerful stuff here.

Of course right after that ends they’re interrupted by Sharena bringing him colored hay he asked for… Which I didn’t exactly know was a thing?

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Remember this, later it’s going to blow your mind.

Once you get through the first hefty story dump with a strange conclusion, the next couple of missions go relatively quietly.

Most of the summoning focus characters do get brief introductions, but that’s about all.

For some reason, Myrrh doesn’t get any sort of introduction. Why do you guys have to short my gal, Intelligent Systems? It’s not like she’s the Great Dragon of legend or anything.

Also I guess that does bring up another point I’d like to address. It feels like the Sacred Stones heroes got a bit shafted here.

In the context of the universe, the only reason game-specific heroes are still appearing is because Princess Veronica has teamed up with Surtr and is providing contracted mercenaries, essentially. From that angle, I understand why they don’t necessarily have a huge amount of time given in the main storyline compared to more independent, specifically focused Paralogues… But still.

The music playing under everything is from the Sacred Stones, but the maps aren’t. Which is unfortunate because seeing the miniature representations of original game maps is still one of my favorite things about playing Fire Emblem Heroes.

It’s a shame, though I can let it slide considering main story progression is put on the forefront here.

That progression has the Order of Heroes eventually making it to the gateway into Fjorm’s homeland, which is sealed by a massive magical MacGuffin.

Arriving at that gateway has the story kick up to 11 once again. After all, it takes time for Fjorm to open up the gate, and you know what holding a position for a long time entails:

Surtr arrives to ambush the Order, which does lead to one of my favorite aesthetic effects in the history of Fire Emblem Heroes thus far.

What a cool duality between invading and defending. I love that sort of thing, revisiting an old area with a new coat of paint. It’s just rad game design!

But you know what else is rad?

How cool of a villain Surtr is.

I won’t even qualify it that much, just look at how savage and unequivocally insane the guy is.

It’s just amazing seeing such a gruesome person in a mobile game spin-off of a somewhat kid friendly Nintendo franchise. I’ve come to really love a lot of the characters from the Fire nation, and this kind of unchecked intensity is one of the reasons why.

Though I do think it’s hilarious that you get a long, intense monologue from Surtr, only for him to send his two lackies in first and arrive after turn 3.

Especially since he’s invincible. So he’s just giving you the opportunity to end the fight before he can help.

Good guy Surtr?

Okay definitely not. But when you beat this mission, the story goes wildly off the rails once again.

After Fjorm opens the gateway to allow your heroes to escape, they have to come to terms with making the decision to run and fight another day even if that means Surtr destroys a nearby village.

Alfonse leads the charge to run away, which feels uncharacteristic after a whole mission set surrounding his citizen-first mentality.

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Once they escape, however, the story cuts back to focus more on Surtr’s forces.

Then, in the surprise of the century, Xander reveals that he’s still relevant to the main plot.

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Yeah, remember when Xander was important as the General of Veronica’s army? Well apparently he hasn’t disappeared.

Honestly it’s getting to a point where I wouldn’t argue with people shipping Veronica and Xander together. Clearly he’s sticking with her for the long run, after all.

Plus there are people who are into older men like that. I don’t judge.

Anyway… That aside, Veronica and Surtr start arguing over whether he should destroy the town, since Veronica is keen on having them be part of the Emblian empire once Askr is destroyed.

Cleverly enough a callback to the last Sacred Stones missions where Seth asked her to think more about her people.

Before they can fight, Loki stops the group by letting them know the town is empty.

Colored hay ex machina? Or nice use of chekhov’s gun? I’ll let you decide.

After Surtr metaphorically cools his jets and agrees to keep Veronica around longer, he splits his forces up, setting things in motion for the next big mission.

What a long, frankly fascinating journey just this one mission series is. The character development is interesting, the writing is clever and everything moves at a good pace.

Even if the Sacred Stones heroes feel a little left behind, I can’t argue with what we got.

Oh, and no Lyon yet in case you hadn’t noticed. I know he’s coming tomorrow, but it does seem like a waste not to have him appear with Eirika here in this set somewhere.

Especially since they alluded to it all over the place!

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As I’m sure you can tell, this banner has been a bit divisive for me.

On the one hand, it’s Sacred Stones-themed, so I’m predisposed to like it. Especially since Myrrh and L’Arachel are in it. Plus, the story they have going that includes these heroes is easily the best we’ve seen out of this game yet in my opinion.

I even got Myrrh with very minimal sacrifices. That’s awesome!

But at the same time, Eirika reappearing still bugs me wildly. Especially considering they really don’t do anything with her! I’m more than willing to admit that there’s probably just some personal bias here.

I love Eirika and the fact that they included a horseback version of her, but it was so wildly disappointing seeing her taking up a slot in this summoning focus, and that just really hit me hard. I’m willing to bet it’s in part because I’ve had a rough first week of school this semester and am taking even slight blemishes in overall great developments as over-embellished issues.

That said, as much as I want to complain about it, everything outside of Eirika here really lines up perfectly and would probably be my favorite update in some time otherwise.

So I’m going to stop looking at the negatives and take everything for what it really is: Some damn well done story and gameplay.

With a little bit of luck in summoning to boot.

I guess with all that said, all I really have to add is… Here’s looking forward to Lyon being good, hopefully.

How do you feel about this new summoning focus, or the story it accompanies?

If you could have any other hero from Sacred Stones beside Eirika a second time, who would you want to see?

Let me know in the comments below, and until next time. I’m off to get some rest so I can cover an Academic Senate meeting in the morning.

January 22, 2018 Articles Published

Just like that, the daily grind begins once again.

After our first official deadline night of the semester yesterday, I can definitely say that it was a strange experience to once again be sitting in the center of the room as an assistant. Probably the most off-putting thing about it is the fact that I feel more disconnected from the overall workings of the paper than I have in a long time.

Though I did personally get out at a reasonable hour.

Considering that’s going to be happening a lot more this semester, I suppose I can’t complain.

Plus, the usual positives of working at the Titan were at play as usual. Namely getting to spend time with my friends on staff, who for the most part carried over from last semester. In particular it was nice having lunch with our now Social Media Editor Lissete, who is at least one of the people on my list of those I’d like to spend more time with now that I actually have some free time available as an assistant.

I can also certainly never argue with the great feeling that comes with getting content out on that newsprint.

For this first weeklong issue of the semester, I wrote two pieces.

The first, published in the main paper, is an article about current president searches in the Cal State University system. The story idea was originally something I had been discussing with our advisor Bonnie toward the end of last semester when Mildred García announced she would be leaving. At that point, Bonnie had told me that there were four CSU campuses looking for new presidents all at once. I thought it was a really interesting story at the time, but unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to commit to it at that point.

So for our first issue this semester, I finally picked it up.

Granted, the first kick in the pants for me came thanks to a request from Dr. Sexton, who wanted to know the layout of presidents across the system for an article he’s putting together for the LA Times. Compiling that data for him offered me the perfect opportunity to take the work and use it for my own purposes.

After looking through that compiled data to sort out which schools were searching for presidents – CSU Bakersfield, Dominguez Hills and San Diego, for the record – I was also able to find a few other interesting details. For example, only three current CSU presidents started their tenure before 2012. That’s three out of 23, for those who don’t know.

This information is important because it effects CSUF directly. Our new president, Framroze Virjee (who also got a dedicated article in this issue that’s worth the read), is a temporary appointment until June 2019. One of the reasons why the search for the person coming after him doesn’t start until this fall is because the CSU wants to get the current three searches out of the way first.

With all that said, I don’t want to give away my entire article here and now, so go ahead and give it a look here if you want to see some more detail and my interview with a CSU representative. I sort of sat on the piece for a while, but I wound up really liking how it turned out – even if it was basically the sum of an hour’s worth of work particularly finished on the drive to Hof’s Hut on Saturday.

Don’t know why I felt the need to advertise Hof’s Hut, but there you go.

If I had to guess, I’ll probably be pursuing this topic (the president searches, not Hof’s Hut) more in the future.

The second article I wrote went in the special first issue insert, themed after technology this semester. The topic I chose means a lot to me personally: video games.

My article for the Tech Issue is more specifically about the fairly recent addition of gaming disorder onto the World Health Organization’s beta draft for the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. Or the WHO’s ICD-11 in much easier, abbreviated terms.

This one is actually the longer of the two pieces I wrote, since it wound up being more like an interesting little passion project for me. I won’t delve too deep into it here since you can check out the article for yourselves, but essentially I laid out exactly what this disorder would entail if it’s added into the ICD-11’s finalized version, talked about some of the history of looking at video games in a critical manner through other organizations like the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 and addressed some of the potential consequences of putting out an official potential diagnosis.

My two interviews, one with a Mihaylo College of Business and Economics professor who specializes in technological addiction, and the other with a School of Nursing professor who specializes in behavioral disorders and substance abuse. The prior wound up taking the most space in the story because I had a long, involved interview with him, while the latter was a little bit more specialized in individual places because we had some issues scheduling our time to talk. Her interview was shorter as a result, but I definitely got some interesting information all the same.

If you want to check out that story, you can here. I’d highly recommend that one actually, in part because I got to do a really fun photo illustration to go along with it.

Essentially, I just brought a lot of my video games and accompanying memorabilia to school so I could do a photo shoot.

The photos turned our phenomenally well thanks to one of our two photo editors this semester, Gabe Gandara, who I remember having a good time with when he came with me to the ASI Board of Directors meeting where they discussed the Milo Yiannopoulos resolution a few months back. Those photos in the story are so good, in fact, that I’m considering using them for my own personal ventures.

We’ll see if that pans out.

Of course, if you want to see any of my pieces for the Daily Titan, you can check out my archive over on the right. Since I’m a part of 471 this semester, you can probably expect me to be writing a bunch of articles to fill that up more than it already is. These two are just the beginning, and I have at least two more slated already for the next two weeks that I have to start working on.

However, for now my priority is getting some rest so I can be prepared for the first day of school tomorrow.

Or… Today technically, since this is coming out the morning of the 22nd. But hey, the human brain works in mysterious ways, so from a temporal standpoint I’m going to write how I feel like writing.

With all that said, good luck to anyone getting their school life going again this week. May we all survive the inevitable slog that is the spring 2018 semester.

The Radiant Fire Emblem Heroes 2.1.0 Update

The Radiant Fire Emblem Heroes 2.1.0 Update

Welcome to your multi-faceted Fire Emblem Heroes post for the week.

Yesterday, Heroes got a semi-large scale update  that implemented some new features. Today, brand new heroes from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn were added into the game.

So let’s not mess around friends, there’s plenty to cover and a limited amount of moonlight to write about it, but I’m just as excited to get into it all the same.


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This little list in the notifications page kind of covers everything succinctly, but in trademarked Jason Rochlin fashion I’m going to jump into each point individually, likely over-embellishing their descriptions as I discuss my thoughts.

Hero Merit limit increase

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Is my unit bias showing yet?

For those of you who don’t know about Hero Merit, one of the many underlying systems in Fire Emblem Heroes that runs as you use your units to battle others is the accumulation of Hero Merit. This Merit doesn’t necessarily affect the heroes themselves in any way, but it’s highly beneficial for players to work toward maxing it out all the same.

When a specific unit reaches an interval of 500 Hero Merit, the player can receive 500 Hero Feathers. With the new increased capacity, players can earn 4,000 Hero Feathers with each character.

I’ve become more of a fan of Hero Feathers as of late, as they are what allow you to unlock an individual unit’s potential. In other words it allows you to grow a unit from a three star rarity to a four star rarity or a four star rarity to a five star rarity.

Now that I know the value of merging multiple five star units together to increase their power, I have a much more positive outlook on these collectibles – and a much higher need of them considering it takes 20,000 Hero Feathers to buff one unit to a five star.

Ouch.

Pre-battle map checking

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Just tap the blue icon for a handy dandy strategizing bonus!

This kind of system was implemented in other game modes, especially those where you have to fight multiple maps in a row like Squad Assault, but now you can use it any time for just about any map you can access.

As far as what it does… Well, it should be fairly self-explanatory when I say “pre-battle map checking.” Want to see what your units will be up against in the next fight? Check the map ahead of time, take a look at the opponent units and what skills they have to come in better prepared.

That’s really about that. It’s a simply but highly useful change.

More Sacred Seals & Weapon Refining

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For context, the additional Sacred Seals are Brash Assault, Savage Blow, Hone Speed, Close Defense, Guidance and Attack Smoke.

To be completely honest I can’t do this particular change any more justice than the screenshot above does.

Two new legendary weapons can be refined, though the only one that really matters to me is Sanaki’s special red tome, as she’s a five star unit I have and use fairly often.

Personally I hope this change is an indication that more upgrades will be coming in the near future, since there are plenty of other units that have legendary weapons that I would love to buff.

Cough cough Eirika cough

The Sacred Seals that were added to the construction option also aren’t very important to me personally. They’re all Seals that were available in the past as part of Tempest Trials rewards, so I already had all of them leading up to this addition.

Thus, I can’t actually build any of them. I already have them.

Oh well, at least other newer players now have access to some cool additional skills.

New terrain type: Trenches

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It’s all quiet on the Western Front, Xander.

While the screenshot above once again covers all of the information I currently have about this new terrain type, I’m quite interested in seeing how trenches affect the game going forward.

From the description alone, it just seems like trenches are being added as a check to cavalry units. Instead of their usual three space movement range, heroes on horseback can only go one space when moving across trenches. It’s a small debuff if the maps where they’re featured don’t have an excessive amount, but it is interesting to note that Intelligent Systems is trying to hit one of the most prevalent unit types in competitive play.

Of course we don’t know whether the trenches have extra utility because they aren’t featured in any of the new story maps… But that’s a different story. For now it just seems like these things might be more of an aesthetic implementation than a practical one.

Beyond those major points, the other changes are small or tie into bug fixes specifically. The only one I can recall having an impact on me is the way they’ve made it so units without weapons aren’t added to the pool of potential allies when playing in a Voting Gauntlet.

That’s cool, but also I never ran into the problem personally so I guess I never well.

With all that said, let’s move into the next leg of this marathon. Everyone’s favorite: A new summoning focus banner.


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Three heroes from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn have arrived in Heroes, and their appearance also continues on the legacy of Radiant game focuses apparently being Intelligent System’s choice to advance the game’s overarching plot.

But of course, we can’t get into silly things like plot without discussing the merits of our new potential allies.

  • MicaiahPriestess of Dawn
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    • Micaiah is interesting in that she is apparently a fan favorite unit who also happens to look quite overpowered. As an added note, she actually has five skills but I could only get four to line up for a picture so know that she also has Drive Attack as her C skill. This girl’s weapon is kind of crazy and all over the place, being a blue tome that’s good against horses and armored units while also combining the effects of three other really good weapons from the past. Her resistance to damage on account of that weapon is accentuated by her Distant Defense and Guard, yet she can also buff allies with Drive Attack and give them health through Sacrifice. In a way, she’s a really well-rounded unit, and I’m assuming her stats reflect the same thing.
  • SotheZephyr
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    • Here’s a dagger unit that finally seems worth his weight (sorry Neko Sakura, your cute Halloween cat ears are still in my dreams, but not in a creepy way). Sothe appears to be any team’s best friend with a weapon that debuffs every enemy stat within a certain range while also buffing every stat for allies in a certain range. Plus, he also Spurs Attack and Speed during combat. However, without proper protection this kind of benefit appears temporary as his other skills suggest he’s quite the glass canon. An interesting unit indeed, and one that seems like he would mesh well with a blade tome user.
  • ZelgiusJet-Black General
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    • So in case it wasn’t obvious, Zelgius is the Black Knight without his helmet on — the Black Knight being a unit who was a prize some time ago in a Tempest Trial, except now he’s apparently stronger stat-wise from what I’ve been told. Also there’s apparently some controversy over the fact that his appearance in this form spoils Radiant Dawn plot points? But to be completely honest a lot of characters spoil plot points in their games so I’m not sure what the problem is. I don’t think I have a lot to say about this guy’s skills. He has the same weapon/special attack as his reskin, but now he gains attack when attacked, can warp around like crazy and converts opponent buffs into penalties. Definitely sounds like a strong guy… But I just can’t get over how much his face isn’t what I expected to see without the mask.

Despite the fact that he got the least amount of writing up above, I think Sothe is actually the character on this banner that I want the most.

Like I said before he looks like a match made in heaven for a blade tome user, and as a result would make a perfect balance on my infantry team alongside Nino and my other stat buffing unit Eirika.

Even though I want Sothe a lot (much to the teasing pleasure of my friend Jonathan who managed to summon the guy almost immediately), the other two wouldn’t be so bad either. Micaiah especially. I’d be very down to join the scarf squad with her.

Luckily, I managed to enter this banner with an abundance of orbs thanks to the recent Tempest Trials and my early summon of flying New Year Azura.

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Yeah that’s right, 95. Well earned if I do say so myself, and there’s more waiting in the sidelines from a new Squad Assault and Chain Challenges.

After blowing through about 30 of those orbs, however… I more or less learned my lesson to be careful where I put my money.

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Don’t get me wrong, five stars are never a bad thing necessarily… But as much as I love Clair from Echoes, she’s just not a fantastic unit in Heroes.

Especially compared to Cordelia, who’s served me loyally since the very beginning.

As I keep cautious with my orb horde, I think that makes it a good time to jump over to the story accompanying these three new heroes.


I kind of spoiled this earlier, but the Radiant Dawn banner opens itself up in a continuation of the Book II storyline.

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Guided by a dream starts with… Well, a dream.

Gunnthrá appears once again, actually making herself relevant in the story considering Intelligent Systems forgot to give her any sort of meaningful moments when she was a Legendary Hero summon possibility toward the end of December.

Speaking of… Don’t get me started on how much I want to throw my phone at the irony of Gunnthrá suggesting we should meet after I got screwed out of summoning her to meet in person already.

Talk about a hell of a tease.

Anyway, her dream guidance is that the Order of Heroes should come to the ice kingdom to meet with her so everyone can combine forces to fight the evil fire king.

The story for this leg of Book II is fairly front loaded actually, as you immediately jump to the Order discussing their war plans in the face of a new powerful enemy. Namely, Anna mentions that the king of Askr is off leading some troops into battle.

The fiery King Surtr is also given more characterization suggesting that he’s nuts and bloodthirsty, a theme we will return to later.

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When Fjorm hears that you met her sister in a dream, she pretty much immediately suggests you follow her direction and head to their homeland for backup.

Once that is established, the fighting begins.

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The maps themselves for this story mission are decent, though it seems odd to me that they would go with Askrian terrain rather than copying maps from Radiant Dawn, considering this is that game’s unit’s time in the spotlight.

In hindsight that is a complaint I could have aired when the Children of Fate were new… But then again it does all make sense in light of the fact that Book II is less a series of connected miniature adventures than Book I in place of a more serialized story.

That said, there isn’t a lot of serialized story across the majority of the ice-covered maps, Chapter 3-1 through Chapter 3-4. The little bits of plot are pretty much just introductions for the Radiant Dawn characters you fight.

Don’t mind Oliver, by the way. He’s uhh… He’s a special looking, apparently meme-worthy guy who’s going to show up in a Grand Hero Battle soon.

Things start to develop when you arrive at the final map and come face-to-face with a new challenge.

The source of those flames are Laevatein, my favorite of the lot, showing what seems to suggest the beginning of a pattern where each of the fiery nation’s main units are going to headline each chapter from here on.

Her gimmick seems to be an almost robotic adherence to the rules set in place by her father and sister, which is an interesting touch I wasn’t quite expecting.

Gives her an appeal similar to Team Magma Admin Courtney from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Once you beat her, she retreats and the Order decides to take a break from their journey to help restore the burned village. Though this move makes sense, it’s almost comically similar to them straight up saying “here’s the commercial break before our next episode.”

Yet… The story doesn’t end quite yet.

For some reason tired of their alliance, Veronica decides to leave having assisted the fire nation with her contracted units.

That doesn’t sit well with the king.

Yeah… Remember when I said this guy is a crazy, sadistic nut job?

Case an point: Crazy grin while imagining a little girl burning to death.

Honestly for as over-the-top as this comes across, I do admittedly appreciate the way they made a villain who’s undeniably awful for everyone to stand up again.

I’m just hoping Veronica switches sides and we get the chance to use her against this ultimate foe. That would be pretty awesome.


Boy howdy, this really was a hell of a marathon wasn’t it? I love it when there are a lot of things to cover, but it is a bit exhausting when everything takes this long.

I guess if nothing else I can appreciate it as a little something fun before I dive back into killing myself with work that I for some reason thought would be a good way to get back into the swing of things.

So, how about I take a break from talking your ear off and once more offer the chance for a larger discussion.

How do you feel about the updates that came with version 2.1.0?

Out of the Radiant Dawn heroes added, which is your favorite?

What do you think of the way Book II is developing? Personally, I happen to think the way they’ve gone with it is pretty intriguing.

Is the best part of this update the new game loading screen that I used as the featured image for this post?

Let me know your thoughts somewhere on the internet, and until next time… I’ll be resisting the urge not to make myself broke again.

Wish me luck.

My thoughts on the January 2018 Nintendo Direct Mini

My thoughts on the January 2018 Nintendo Direct Mini

I’ve been busy the last couple of days between training for the Daily Titan, working on three stories for our first issue of the semester, writing some stuff for Gladeo and plenty of other little time consuming things, so I didn’t have time to really write something extended on the Nintendo Direct Mini that premiered earlier.

After watching through it again, however, I decided I didn’t exactly have a lot to say about the games they talked about in the first place. As a result I figured I could just run though a couple of quick fire thoughts here before working on writing my Fire Emblem Heroes post for tomorrow. It shouldn’t take all that long ideally, and I am interested in putting some of my mind on paper.

Metaphorically.

The 14 minute direct came completely unbeknownst to me, but I’m glad my friends let me know to stumble upon it because there are a few things on the list of announcements that I’m really glad I found out about now.

Of course there were a few throwaway things for me throughout. Namely the Pokkén Tournament expansion, the Dragon Quest Builders demo, Ys VIII, SNK Heroines, Art of Fighting 2, Fe and Celeste. For one reason or another none of those games really spoke to me, so if you’re hoping I talk about them then you’re probably going to be a bit disappointed.

Beyond those there were quite a few things mentioned that I’m quite excited about. For example, I’m really looking forward to jumping back into Kirby with Kirby Star Allies.

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Image courtesy of kirby.wikia.com

The game seems to be combining the art style of Triple Deluxe (one of my favorites in the series) and an extended version of the ability combination from Kirby 64 and Squeak Squad. The thing that got me more excited about this title is the fact that it’s coming out on March 16.

 

 

 

I had no idea it was going to be that early, but I’m very excited knowing there’s at least one game to look forward to early on this year.

Seriously Kirby is one of my favorite Nintendo properties. Even if the games tend to be on the easier side, they’re never not fun. They’re always a blast to play and this one promises to be a blast to play on a system that has already given us the amazing next steps of Mario and the Legend of Zelda.

So yeah can we just skip ahead to March? Maybe?

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Image courtesy of Nintendo.co.uk

Nintendo also promises a port of Hyrule Warriors definitive edition in the spring featuring a combined roster of all the main and DLC characters from both the Wii U and 3DS versions. It seems like this could be a good opportunity for me to go back and get that game since I missed out on it during its first run of popularity, which is an especially promising idea considering it’s going to be a more complete package.

Plus, I still haven’t gotten Fire Emblem Warriors either… So I really need to dip my toes in the Warriors series eventually.

Another Nintendo game making a return on the Switch is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

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Image courtesy of neogaf.com

I don’t know that I’m as excited for this title coming back as I am for Hyrule Warriors, but if nothing else both of these games returning sets a promising precedent for something like… Say… Super Smash Brothers 4 to get a definitive version on the Switch.

One can dream.

Also, playing Mario Odyssey and spending an obsessive amount of time in New Donk City has rekindled some of my love for the big ape. Add in Funky Kong as a new playable character and I’m probably a little more open-minded for Tropical Freeze as a result.

Speaking of Mario Odyssey, it’s one of three games getting an update soon. The others are Pokkén Tournament, which I already said I don’t feel too strongly about since I really have no intent to own that game, and Mario + Rabbids which is another game I don’t own despite being more interested in it.

But hey, Donkey Kong is being added to that game. So… Tropical Freeze callback? Or something…

Anyway, in the Odyssey update Nintendo will be adding a new mode called Luigi’s Balloon World.

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Image courtesy of Polygon.com

First of all, Luigi. Adding him into the game makes this already a win in my book.

Beyond Luigi just being amazing, the minigame the update adds does seem interesting in its own right. Essentially there are two aspects to it. The first had players able to choose to hide a balloon somewhere in the Kingdom they’re playing on. The second lets players choose to hunt down a balloon that has been hidden by another player.

The catch is that both modes must be completed in 30 seconds.

As the announcer talks about in the Direct, this encourages a speedrun-centric style of gameplay where the players who know the most about the map around them can create the best hiding places that might be hard for more casual players to reach. It’s a really interesting way to approach Odyssey that I never would have considered implementing, but one that also feels ingeniously perfect for an on-the-go console like the Switch thanks to the short time limits.

If I’m being completely honest, that little addition to an already great game frankly seems more interesting than the entirety of Mario Tennis Aces.

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Image courtesy of nintendosoup.com

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Mario Tennis games. Mario Power Tennis was one of my favorite GameCube games. From what I understand the most recent Wii U Mario Tennis game was somewhat disappointing, however. As a result of that and the strangely real-world tennis outfits characters are wearing (like Mario up above) I’m fairly skeptical.

Interested, but skeptical.

The last major theme of this Direct that caught my interest was the amount of games being ported to the Switch that seem like unusual candidates.

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Image courtesy of overkillsoftware.com

First is Payday 2, a game which feels like it has been around forever but has never necessarily caught my interest. Even so, it just seems strange to me that Nintendo would sanction a game about (somewhat) realistic gun play and bank heists being put on their system.

Though that brings me to the second game, Dark Souls.

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Image courtesy of polygon.com

Somehow the meme that was Dark Souls on the Nintendo Switch came true. From Software’s dark, demented and incredibly difficult action adventure is finally coming to a platform that I can play it on. To be honest, as much as I’m fairly intimidated by the game, I think it’s going to be worth trying it out if for no other reason than to appreciate the cult classic status.

If I actually get around to doing that, it should be quite the adventure.

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Image courtesy of nintendowire.com

Third on the list is The World Ends with You, arguably the game I’m the most interested in.

I have no prior experience with the Nintendo DS classic – unless you count the characters appearance in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance that is. Yet, basically every person I know or follow online seems eager to put TWEWY way high up on their ‘best DS games of all time’ lists.

Just from what I’ve seen, I can imagine why. The game has a really cool anime-pixel art style and an interesting gameplay mechanic in its original form involving two characters fighting at once with players using the touch screen to control one and buttons to control the other.

That will presumably shift to being one joy con controlling each character on the Switch version, but I could be wrong on that. I don’t know what the control scheme is going to look like.

That’s just another part of what makes it so exciting for me.

Not only will it be a game with an interesting story and control scheme, it’s also going to be an extended edition with more content similar to Hyrule Warriors.

Though TWEWY has no official release date beyond coming this year, it’s honestly going to be at the top of my ‘to get’ list whenever it arrives.

Those are about my off-the-cuff thoughts on the Nintendo Direct Mini. So, I leave things at this (as usual). What did you think of the Direct? Which games are you looking forward to?

Let me know in the comments!

The True Cost of a Shadow Game — Gaming Economies

The True Cost of a Shadow Game — Gaming Economies

I’ve wanted to write something on this topic for some time now, and after I declared Duel Links my favorite game of 2017 I figure it’s as good a time as ever to do something with the game. As strange as it sounds when mentioning that I’ll be talking about a nostalgic anime-based card game simulator, Duel Links in particular has piqued my interest regarding the different versions of in-game economies utilized by microtransaction-based games.

I can actually pinpoint exactly when I decided I was interested in delving into this topic. It was on October 23, when I took this screenshot of exactly what inspired me:

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For those of you who don’t play Duel Links and don’t understand exactly what this shows, I’ll elaborate on the subject in stages to give everyone a full understanding.

The main economy in Duel Links is based on gems. They are arguably the most valuable collectible in the game because you use them to purchase packs of cards from boxes.


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What are Card Boxes?

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a card game with a long, long history and easily hundreds of thousands of cards in its overall catalog. These cards are released in boxes that often correspond to one theme or another, and those themes can contain a variety of cards that fit together in closer-knit groups called archetypes.

As an easy example, a card pack that’s themed around Spellcasters might contain a number of monsters, spells or traps that support the Dark Magician archetype (made popular by the headlining character of the original anime series).

The mobile game Duel Links works in the same way, with Konami releasing boxes of cards at least once a month to try and catch up to the amount available in the real life trading card game. These boxes switch off on each release between a full box and a mini box. They are headlined by one monster that tends to have the most additional support in the pack. However, in full packs especially there are often a number of archetypes given support.

Servant of Kings was the seventh mini box in the game and one of 17 available as of December 31. It features Dark Magician of Chaos, which ties into the Dark Magician archetype I mentioned earlier, but beyond that frankly has a much more eclectic range of supportive cards than most mini boxes do.

With that general game context out of the way, now I can delve into the economy itself.

When buying card boxes, gems are your best friend.


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How are gems utilized?

The two kinds of boxes in Duel Links are similar but ultimately different animals.

~ In a single main box, there are 600 cards available which are split into 200 packs that players can open. Of the four card rarities, things break down like this:

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Cards from the “Galactic Origin” Main Box
  • 10 cards are “Ultra Rare” with one of each kind of UR card available
  • 24 cards are “Super Rare” with two of each kind of SR card available
  • 192 cards are “Rare” with six of each kind of R card available
  • 374 cards are “Not Rare” with eight or nine of each kind of N card available
  • Regardless of rarity, there are 100 unique cards to get in the box.

~ In a single mini box, there are 240 cards available which are split into 80 packs that players can open. Of the four card rarities, things break down like this:

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Cards from the “Echoes of Silence” Mini Box
  • Two cards are “Ultra Rare” with one of each kind of UR card available
  • Eight cards are “Super Rare” with one of each kind of SR card available
  • 70 cards are “Rare” with five of each kind of R card available
  • 160 cards are “Not Rare” with 10 of each kind of N card available
  • Regardless of rarity, there are 40 unique cards to get in the box.

Each individual pack contains three cards and can be purchased for 50 gems. A single pack purchase is always available to players, but as more gems are collected a larger collective buying option becomes available.

By that, I don’t mean you get a discount for larger purchases. Purchasing discounts are exclusive to spending real money on cards.

Rather, you simply get to do larger pack opening sessions the more gems you have. When you have 100 gems you can open two packs at a time, when you have 150 gems you can open three packs at a time, and so on. There’s a cap at 10 packs, which costs 500 gems.

In one sense, it seems strange to cap things off there. Yet 10 packs is a perfect place to cap things off because it breaks down the boxes in a digestible way.

Under the way this system has been set up, 500 gems becomes a recognizable baseline that players (or at least that I) aim for before opening packs.

By waiting to get to 500 gems before buying, the 600 cards in a main box are distilled into 24 pack opening sessions and the 240 cards in a mini box are distilled into eight pack opening sessions. That kind of bite-sized dividing is very clever because it gives players a goal to work up to and makes an intimidatingly large task into an easier, far more enjoyable series of tasks.

After all, it’s much more of an accomplishable idea to collect 500 gems eight or 24 times than it is to collect 4,000 gems for a full mini box or 12,000 gems for a full main box. Add onto that the graphical interface involved with each pack opening and you get that small scale addicting purchase system mobile games like this are known for.

That said, I haven’t even mentioning the fact that every box, in theory, should be opened three times.

In Duel Links, the deck you can build based on the cards you collect are limited.

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There’s a maximum of 30 cards usable per deck (with five extra deck cards for fusion monsters), and you can only have three of a given card in each deck – with the exception of a few cards that are on a limited list, of course.

When you start a duel, each player’s deck is shuffled and four cards are drawn. As a result, a deck should be built to offer the greatest odds of having cards that are needed to win in an opening hand.

As the game’s metagame had come to dictate, that means decks typically stick to the minimum 20 card requirement and have two-to-three copies of the important cards.

So, if you want those three copies of the ever-present Super Rare card Wall of Disruption in your deck, you need to reset the “Servants of Kings” mini box three times, since each box only has one copy. If that Super Rare is the last card you pull in all three of those boxes by sheer dumb luck, you’ll have to spend 12,000 gems in all.

Of course that also means it might not take every pack in the box to get all of the Super Rare and Ultra Rare cards, you could get them all right when you start opening packs for a given box.

That’s where I cycle back to what inspired me to do this post in the first place.

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In this run at the “Servants of Kings” box, I wound up having to spend exactly 4,000 gems to clean out everything because one of the two Ultra Rare cards was the last one I needed. Instead of getting a veritable bargain of 3,950 gems, I got stuck with full price.

Something about that really got into my head, and I decided to analyze this economic system after getting stuck in that position. I find that overall Duel Links has a far more reasonable economy in place than most mobile games, despite the fact that this project’s inspiration began with my being screwed over.


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How can you collect gems?

There are many ways to collect gems in Duel Links, and I would argue one of the best aspects of the game is the fact that there are certain means of collection that are limitless.

The chief means of collecting gems is leveling up.

Players advance through a series of stages in the game, with multiple missions offering challenges that impede advancement. These missions always include one that provides gems for completing every other challenge in a stage.

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However, the biggest collection of gems come from leveling up Legendary Duelist characters.

There is currently a level 40 cap on these characters (which has the potential to increase). As they advance through these levels players gain access to multiple rewards, including new cards and skills to fit that character or related archetypes, multiple concurrent deck building options for the character and gems.

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Levels 28 through 30 are the most satisfying when it comes to gem collecting.

All together, each character can gross 2,290 gems by leveling up to 40. With the recent additions of Bonz and Arcana as playable Legendary Duelists, there are 25 characters available in Duel Links.

Thus, you can get a grand total of 57,250 gems by leveling up each character to the max. Plus a couple dozen extra gems from overall player missions that additionally reward leveling up these characters.

While this is the primary pool of gems available in Duel Links, at the end it amounts to the equivalent of completely buying out four mini boxes if a player wants three copies of the Super and Ultra Rare cards.

In hindsight, not necessarily the most lucrative deal in a game with eight mini boxes and nine main boxes, with more being released about once a month.

Luckily, more characters are released fairly regularly and there are plenty of other gem deposits available to cash in on.

One of the more valuable but less consistent sources of gems are special giveaways for holidays, in-game events, the release of a new box and compensation for mistakes Konami has made (such as the game going offline unexpectedly).

 

A cache of gems also becomes available every month when the Ranked Dueling arena resets.

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As you play against other duelists around the world, you can get gems through ranking up and as rewards for reaching a certain amount of wins in a season. In fact, once you get the final displayed reward at 120 victories, every couple dozen victories will also give you 30 gems at a pop.

Similarly, a number of gems become available as periodic score-based rewards during things like Duel-A-Thons, Duelist Chronicles or limited time character unlocking events.

 

Beyond that, there are three “daily” small sources of gems to make use of.

I use daily in quotes because technically only one of these sources is a truly daily activity. That activity is watching a random duel recording from a match between two other players.

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Learn all the fanciest Player-versus-Player duel strategies from this fancy television box on the PvP Arena screen.

The other sources are technically daily but with some technicalities.

In the Duel School, players can take on a duel with a borrowed deck once a day that offers a random reward. On occasion, that reward is three gems:

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The other rewards this challenge cycles through includes 20 general keys, seven colored keys and 5,000 gold (easily the most useful of the three).

Not a lot, but it’s something.

As an added note, the Duel School also opens a few missions allowing players to practice new strategies available when a new purchasable card box opens.

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The new card box challenges include full duels with loaner decks and limited turn tests meant to show off specific combinations of cards.

The third “daily” source of gems is tapping environmental features on each screen of the overworld.

 

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  • The fountain next to the Legendary Duelist gate
  • The lanterns in front of the PvP Arena
  • The hologram card on top of the Shop
  • The trash can in front of the Card Studio

As an added note, the pictures I’ve displayed are from the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX world. The objects I mentioned are exactly the same in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! world.

These four can be activated at least once a day to get between one and five gems each, with the objects refreshing multiple times a day. That means if someone is lucky they can get 20 gems in a shot throughout the day.

Fair warning, however, more often than not each object only gives one gem at a time.

What really makes the system of gem collection in Duel Links special, however, is the fact that farming Legendary Duelists at the Gate offers an infinite source of potential gems.

When you spend a certain amount of keys collected by dueling Standard Duelists, you can battle one of the Legendary Duelist characters from the first two anime series. Duking it out with these higher level Duelists has a random chance of providing players with boxes of five, 10 or 15 gems a pop in their eight potential assessment rewards.

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The chance of getting gems is increased when considering the fact that bonus gems are rewarded in place of a skill that had already been unlocked.

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Even if this kind of gem earning is considerably more tedious than something like leveling up a character for large stipends, as I mentioned before one can battle Legendary Duelists as often as they want so long as they have the keys to spare.

Trust me, after a fair amount of time has been invested in the game, keys are no longer a concern.

If a player desires, they can grind up gems infinitely between taking on Legendary Duelists and Ranked Duels. When that idea meshes with the finite amount of collectibles available in Duel Links at one time, the true genius of the system shines through.

While nobody will likely ever collect every box-purchasable card through grinding alone because of how long it would take, it’s entirely possible to do so. The goal is achievable because you’re guaranteed to get everything in a given box eventually.

It’s way different than the system in other free-to-play mobile titles where random number generation applies to what you get at one time during a purchase, but the amount of options that random generation chooses between stays in a large pool each time.


Currently, this kind of system where I can consistently set goals and earn my way up to them in bits at a time is my absolute favorite form of microtransaction-based gaming because when I do feel frustrated seeing this:

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Recurring through-line for the win.

I’ll always know that I’m guaranteed to get that Man-Eater Bug in my next purchase no matter what. Then, once I have all three of them in my collection, I never have to look at that particular box ever again.

In my head, that’s a real, tangible sense of accomplishment.

Plus, let’s not forget that even if you don’t want to spend any gems, you can get tons of cards through Legendary Duelists, leveling up characters and through special events. These cards can either stand on their own or support card archetypes in certain boxes, so a player can pick and choose what boxes they want to buy from to build the decks they want.

I don’t throw the term around that often, but it’s a fairly genius way to handle things in my opinion.

Even if Konami releases card boxes a bit too frequently to make total purchase completion an achievable goal in a set timeframe without potentially spending some money anyway.

As one final note for any players curious about jumping into Duel Links: Do not ever look at the incessant phishing offers in the global chats.

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Those are always scams. End of story.

Based on this (I believe fairly comprehensive) guide I’ve put together on the economy of Duel Links, what do you think of the system they’ve put together?

In your opinion, are there other games that do the microtransaction push more fairly for players?

This kind of analysis is a longer project that I’m interested in delving into for other games as well, so if you enjoyed the post or have suggestions for how to make it better, please feel free to let me know!